Victorian-Era Silver and Silver-Plated Tableware

Victorian silver and silver-plated tableware represent a lifestyle so much different than ours today, and I think its this vast difference from our everyday 21st century lives that must be the attraction for collectors. My own lifestyle is very simple, but after exposure to the flatware of this era I just had to have a long-tined silver berry fork for savoring strawberries. Its almost inconceivable how many variations on serving items, patterns and shapes for the table were made, and there is truly something for everyone.

A sizable double-walled, porcelain-lined heavy tilting silver pitcher made by Meriden Brittania Company (Connecticut, absorbed into the International Silver Company in 1898) in the mid-to-late 19th century would likely sell at auction in the $50 to $150 range. Nearly all wares made by this company include a stamp reading quadruple plate, a phrase which some say indicates the presence of four times the sterling in the batch of silver plating dip. Simply designed items made for the hotel industry were usually marked as hotel wares, while items designed for household use usually included incised designs on the body of the piece, commonly Aesthetic Movement designs informed by Japanese art depicting flowers, fans or birds. Other silverware incorporated architectural elements similar to the machine-turned border decorations and overall profile of furniture of the period, and such designs were later devalued by people of the mid-20th century as being a bit gaudy and dated. A piece with this sort of design might fetch $20 to $60 at auction today.

A silver-plated spoon warmer in the shape of a nautilus shell is one of the more fanciful and exotic items of Victoriana I can think of. Warm water is poured over spoons placed in the body, and the warmer is offered to dinner guests as soup is served. An unusual piece like this will stoke the buyers imagination and therefore Id expect it to garner between $100 and $300 at auction.